Add alcohol into this mix and you have a dangerous combinationFar too many older adults either develop alcoholism in their senior years or carry the problem with them from an earlier time and find that it worsens with age – even if they don’t drink any more than usual. What many older drinkers don’t realize is that part of the natural deterioration of our bodies prevents us from metabolizing alcohol as efficiently. So while they might have been able to handle two or three glasses of wine all through their middle years, now it’s like they are having double that amount. This can cause a whole host of problems, such as depression, poor sleep, heart trouble, and a worsening of arthritis. (New York Times) And that’s not even touching on the bad things that can happen when an older person drinks while taking medication, a common problem among the elderly.Even if you don’t believe that your elderly mother or father have a dependence on alcohol, it’s important to address the issue of their drinking if it seems to be impacting their health. It can be difficult to broach this problem on your own, but you should never hesitate to speak with their physician if you have concerns. More and more doctors are being trained to talk to elderly patients about their use of alcohol and do so in a tactful way. A common route to take is to bring up any medication that your parent may be on and discuss the problems that can occur when mixing it with alcohol.This can empower your elderly parent to take matters into their own hands by educating them on how much they can drink without causing harm to themselves, as well as lessons on pacing themselves, eating while drinking to absorb the alcohol, and drinking plenty of water. Some doctors have gone so far as to ask patients to keep a journal that records the days, number of times, and types of drinks they have in an effort to get them to cut back. (National Institute on Aging)
If a consultation with the family doctor doesn’t seem to be enough, there are other options out thereMany older people are reticent about going into treatment facilities because of the stigma they believe is attached to it and the discomfort and embarrassment they feel at being “the old person” in the room. These feelings can be partially alleviated, though, by looking into programs that specifically treat older people. It’s possible to find everything from elderly counselors to alcoholic support groups for the elderly. The best thing to do after your elderly parent has decided to seek treatment is to work with an expert who can make sure they find the best possible place for them.
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